Al Jazeera is ‘standout winner’ of video journalism prize for Selling out West Papua

by damian

Wincott had a strong entry this year for its video prize, encompassing documentary, current affairs and news programmes. And, as ever, the judges had the challenge of comparing entries from such a wide range of genres, often with very different budgets behind them.

The three shortlisted entries were:

Channel 4 Dispatches:  ‘Starbucks and Nespresso: The Truth About Your Coffee’ which revealed how both these big brands were sourcing their coffee from plantations which used child labour.

In the tradition of many Dispatches the programme connected consumers to a business story, raising important questions about the opaqueness of supply chains in even those companies which promote their ESG credentials and the limits to the value of self certification. 

Also shortlisted was the BBC Panorama, Business on the Brink, which followed three companies in Yorkshire coping with the impact of the lockdown. An example of what a well resourced broadcaster can do, the programme was filmed over several months, so that the viewer both got to know the main characters and also witnessed an unfolding drama. With three very different businesses, with different options for survival, the programme gave a very real sense of what it was like to run a business during lockdown. 

The third shortlisted film was Al-Jazeera English’s film Selling Out West Papua. This revealed how two South Korean companies, with the support of the Indonesian government were buying up the rain forests of indigenous tribes at prices which were a fraction of their value, to turn them into palm oil plantations. 

Well evidenced with documents and first hand testimony, the film showed both the methods and the extent to which the indigenous people had been cheated of their lands. 

When it came to a final discussion of the three shortlisted films, the trustees felt that the BBC Panorama programme deserved to be highly commended. But, given its even handed reporting, its depth of investigation and the considerable physical risks which the filmmakers had taken to tell the story, the clear winner for the Video category was Al Jazeera’s Selling Out West Papua. And the team which made the film are:  Drew Ambrose – Senior Reporter and the producers: Jenni Henderson, Nick Olle, Liz Gooch, Alex Helan and Sharon Roobol. 

Audio Journalism  of the Year

Historically this has always been a strong category and, also historically, this has been a section dominated by the BBC.  However in recent years, the arrival of the podcast in particular  has widened the field considerably. This year the three entries which made it to the final were: 

The Financial Times podcast, Behind the Money; BBC 5 Live’s Wake Up to Money and the BBC World Service Business Daily. 

The BBC World Service Business Daily’s reporting of the impact of the pandemic and the response of governments,  business and supra-national institutions was of a consistently high standard, with well informed interviewees, providing listeners with an accessible analysis of worldwide events. 

As always BBC 5 Live’s early morning show was impressive for the speed with which it produced high level business content in response to fast moving events. And this was particularly evident in the programme which they entered – their response to  the collapse of Flybe, which happened just 90 minutes before they went on air at  5 am. 

The Financial Times, Behind the Money, was one of several podcasts entered. Producing a good podcast is not as easy as many people think. The tone and pace are different from linear radio and the length offers opportunities to tackle a wider range of stories. But none of this is an excuse for lower production and editorial standards.  Many new entrants to the podcast world have not grasped this yet. The FT Behind the Money stood out for it imaginative editorial judgement, telling important stories with clarity and insight. 

After lengthy deliberation the judges decided to highly commend Wake Up to Money but to give the Wincott Audio Award for 2020 to the Financial Times ‘Behind the Money’ and its team:  Host, Aimee Keane; producer Oluwakemi Aladesuyi , sound engineer, Breen Turner and editor Liam Nolan. 

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